Overcoming Commuting Obstacles: It’s Too Cold!

Ed. Note: The Overcoming Commuting Obstacles article was originally published in Bicycle Times #15, and offers solutions to common commuting roadblocks, written by a variety of people in a variety of places. I’m publishing each obstacle/solution as its own short post, one or two per day all week. 


Words by Andy Bruno

The first obstacle to get over in cold-weather riding is the mental one. The decision to brave the elements is often harder than choosing the appropriate gear for your ride. When you’re warm and cozy inside your bed/house/car, the prospect of getting all geared up and facing physical discomfort in the form of cold, ice, snow, and/or rain doesn’t seem all that much fun. Indeed, often the first 15 minutes of a winter ride are uncomfortable, but after a good warm-up, the fun begins. I know this fact well, but on some foul weather mornings I still find myself rationalizing about why I’d rather drive to work or skip the trail ride and stay at home and drink coffee. The reason? Inertia. It’s the resistance to changing your state of comfort. On one hand, you’re warm and dry. On the other, you choose to exchange those luxuries to be cold and wet. When I think about it, I know I will be happier if I ride no matter what the weather. But the mental and physical preparation for the ride often seems insurmountable. Obviously it’s not, and what it comes down to is that you just have to push on through and get on your bike. Below are a few tips that make it a little easier to get moving during the winter months.

– If you know you’re riding in the morning, get up a little earlier than usual so that you can fully wake up and get your body physically and mentally prepared.

-Before a ride, I try and warm up a little inside before leaving the house. Not so much that I break a sweat. Something as simple as climbing up and down the steps a few times or doing a few push-ups or sit-ups to increase my heart rate is all that it takes.

-Get enough sleep the night before a ride. This is sound advice all year long, but it’s especially important in the low-motivation months of winter.

-The more you ride during the winter, the easier it is to get motivated to ride. Again, this is true all year long, but more pronounced in winter.

-Get your bike and gear ready to go the night before you ride. Riding in the winter takes a little more preparation, so it’s best not to leave it until the last minute. That only gives you an excuse not to ride.

Once you get outside, your comfort level on the bike is critical so that you actually stay on your bike and enjoy the ride. The right gear can make that happen. 

Photo: Evan Gross

Photo: Evan Gross

Check out some of our tips for gearing up for winter riding on a budget, and read Thom Parsons’ story about resuming his 35-mile commute in the middle of February in Boston—guaranteed to make you laugh, and maybe inspire you to get out there yourself!

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